Ever since his £27.5 million move back in 2013 from Everton, Marouane Fellaini has arguably been the most maligned figure at Manchester United. The big Belgian has been the subject of hatred, ridicule and criticism which has seen him fall from being one of the hottest properties in the Premier League to an unfavoured deputy who produces highly erratic outputs.
Neither David Moyes nor Louis van Gaal could restore confidence or instil consistency back into his spine and sadly, despite his tremendous commitment and work-rate to prove the doubters wrong, he kept finding himself in the wrong books of Manchester United fans as well as the pundits. When the curtains of the summer transfer market of 2016 were lifted, Fellaini’s exit seemed to be a likely event. The displeasure from the fans was evident, though the new boss had other ideas.
From being a serial scapegoat to the new cult hero among the Manchester United faithful, Fellaini’s transformation under the new regime is the talk of the town at the moment. The intriguing upturn in his fortunes dates back to a simple phone call from the new Manchester United manager, José Mourinho who assured him that he is an important piece of the puzzle in the manager’s endeavour at the helm of the red half of Manchester. Three blockbuster outings in as many games so far this season, Fellaini indeed looks like a revived man on a mission to prove a point and of course his value to the football fraternity.
The 28-year-old played every minute for the Red Devils in the Community Shield tie against Leicester City followed by the first two league fixtures against Bournemouth and Southampton. He has been picking up passes to perfection (94% pass accuracy), making inch-perfect tackles (4 tackles, including a crucial one against Bournemouth) and his strong aerial presence and physicality (an average 48% of duels won) has made him a combative force under the Portuguese manager. His towering resilient stature in the central midfield region has been a boon for his side which looked vulnerable in dealing with opponents’ attacks last season. The central midfielder is being a real asset to the team and has slowly but surely started to win over the fans of Manchester United.
Marouane Fellaini has partnered with Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba and interestingly, he tied up well with all three of them and bossed the midfield without being cumbersome. A ruthless soldier who perfectly fits in Mourinho’s system, Fellaini’s versatility of being able to park himself in the middle of the pitch, switch on the attacking engine as well as the knack to chip in a few goals can come handy for Mourinho’s side. He is in the peak period of his career and it is up to the former Chelsea boss as to how well does he continue to derive benefits from the former Everton man, though the early signs look outstanding and commendable, to say the least.
Statistics Credits: WhoScored and Squawka